Hampshire and Isle of Wight teachers go on strike

Teachers marching in Southampton Teachers disputing pay, pensions, job cuts and workloads marched in Southampton and several other towns and cities
The march up Above Bar Street More than 100 people marched from Southampton's Hogland Park and up Above Bar Street to Friends Meeting House in Ordnance Road
The end of the march at  Friends Meeting House A group of teachers from Barton Peveril College in Eastleigh were among those who took part

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A head teacher believes the government has "declared war" on teachers as more than 200 schools in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are affected by strikes.

The NUT and NASUWT, the two biggest teaching unions, are disputing pay, pensions, job cuts and work loads.

Roberta Kirby from Fernhurst Junior School in Portsmouth said political attacks were contributing to a "very difficult working environment".

A Department for Education spokesman called the action "disappointing".

About 120 teachers and union members took part in a march in Southampton.

They gathered in Hoglands Park for speeches before walking up Above Bar Street, along London Road to Friends Meeting House.

Among those taking part was Gerry Connor, a teacher at Barton Peveril College in Eastleigh.

He said education secretary Michael Gove's plans amounted to an "attack on education".

'Teacher will leave'

"Performance related pay will lead to a system in which the starting pay is £22,000 and you'll have to crawl for the other £14,000.

"It may work when you first start, but not when you move on. Teachers in their 30s will not be able to live on that.

School closures

Hampshire - More than 120 closed or partially closed, the number of open schools unknown

Portsmouth - 40 shut or partially shut, 18 open

Southampton - At least 50 closed or partially closed, about 50 open

Isle of Wight - 26 shut or partially shut, 26 open

"I think that this will lead to even more teachers dropping out of the profession. We already have a third dropping out after training."

Miles Grindey, 18, a former student of Mr Connor's at Barton Peveril College and now studying at Itchen College, took part in the march in support.

Teacher Mark Gainey with his sons, Joe, eight, and Alex, nine Joe and Alex Gainey supported their teacher father Mark to ensure they had "enough pocket money"

He said teachers are not "public servants" and should not be treated as such.

"Education is such an important part of our life. We should all show solidarity with our teachers and support them."

Portsmouth head teacher Ms Kirby, who has closed her school, said she sympathised with teachers choosing to strike.

She added: "Whilst I would wish to offer a full education on every day of term-time I know that staff are thinking not only of their pensions and their working conditions, but about the profession as a whole.

"We have had some considerable support from our parents who are not unaware of the issues at the moment, and of course we know that for some it's very inconvenient, but sometimes things are pushed as far as they've gone and staff feel they have to make a stand."

Andy Harris, from Blackfield, tweeted that his wife has defied the strike and gone to work.

"Not because she doesn't agree with [it], but can't lose the money," he added.

Amanda Martin, the divisional secretary for Portsmouth NUT, said: "Strike action is never a step that teachers take lightly and we are very aware and concerned about the inconvenience it causes parents."

She called the strike a "last resort" and asked Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove to enter into "meaningful dialogue" with the unions.

Councillor Peter Edgar, Hampshire County Council's education chief, said he did not believe the action would help children.

In a statement, the Department for Education said: "In a recent poll, 61% of respondents supported linking teachers' pay to performance and 70% either opposed the strikes or believed that teachers should not be allowed to strike at all.

"All strikes will do is disrupt parents' lives, hold back children's education and damage the reputation of the profession."

Political rivals were united in condemning the walk out

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